One of the simple pleasures in life is the enthusiastic greeting I get from my dogs every time I walk through the door, even if it’s only been a few minutes. My dogs act like it’s been months since they last saw me, and each one has their own way of showing how much they missed me. According to a new study, science can explain why your dog greets you with excitement when he see you – no matter how long you’ve been gone.
There are two components that explain why your dog is always so happy to see you. The first one originated in the early years of domestication when the common wolf-like ancestors of dogs and wolves made a choice to begin interacting with our early ancestors. Friendlier and more social wolves sought out humans, evolving into dogs. The more antisocial wolves wanted nothing to do with us and stayed away. That decision is what makes dogs different from wolves, even though the two species share some common behaviors. The wolf we know today is essentially much different from their ancient ancestors.
Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, trained dogs to lie still inside an MRI machine. His research team wanted to see how the dog brain works to better understand our canine friends. From previous studies, he discovered their brain works in a similar way as ours. Berns found that dogs can recognize faces of humans and other dogs, and the region of the brain that lights up is the same area in our brains when we see someone familiar. He learned that canines recognize familiar scents and can distinguish between the smell of a human, another dog and familiar objects. Read More »
There is a wide variety of career choices for someone who is passionate about animals, and some don’t require a college degree. Working with animals has its rewards and challenges, but if you have what it takes to be a humane law enforcement officer, you will be on the front lines helping to protect and save the lives of dogs, cats, other pets and wild animals.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit national organization based in New York City. The goal of ASPCA agents is to ensure the safety and overall welfare of animals. People who work in this field have a love for animals and a passion for humane treatment of all critters. It’s a rewarding career, but it’s not all fun and roses. ASPCA officers have to deal with a variety of situations, good and bad.
In December of 2013, ASPCA officers in New York City were laid off and the NYPD took over their duties, but there are still plenty of opportunities for people wanting to get into this line of work. ASPCA officers are also known as humane law enforcement officers and many have similar powers as police, which aids them in investigating and reporting on issues related to animals. Only agents employed by the state of New York hold the title of ASPCA officer. Read More »
Domesticated housecats share an amazing amount of DNA with tigers – 95.6% actually. In evolutionary history, our furry feline pets became domesticated not that long ago, around 5,000 to 12,000 years. There are many similarities between domesticated cats and wild cats, but why can big cats roar and domesticated cats can’t? It all comes down to a small bone. Cats that roar can’t purr, and cats that purr can never roar.
The cat family (Felidae) is split with the big four cats who roar – lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards – in the sub-family Panthera, and cats who can only purr in the sub-family Felinae, which includes the domesticated cat as well as the bobcat, cheetah, mountain lion and other small wild cats. The mountain lion is the largest of the small cat species, and the tiger is the largest of the big four cats that roar.
What’s interesting about the cat family is their shared instinctive behavior. A head-butt is an appropriate greeting; a wiggle of their behind signals a readiness to pounce; they knead, paw at their food and have an exceptional sense of smell. Around half of all domesticated cats love catnip, which is the same in big cats. All cats, regardless of size, hiss, yowl, snarl, spit and growl. They all love to play, and even wild cats are obsessed with boxes. But when it comes to the ability to roar, not all cats can because of a small bone called the hyoid, which is a U-shaped bone in the throat that sits above the larynx. Read More »
Playing with your dog has an important role in building a bond and earning trust. Plus, he gets to spend quality time with you and run off some energy. It’s not uncommon for dog owners to tease their pet, especially when playing fetch. Instead of tossing the ball, you hide it and watch as your dog tries to find the elusive ball. To us it’s all in good fun, but does your dog see teasing as part of play, and is it something he likes?
In some instances, teasing a dog can promote unwanted behavior. I used to have a neighbor kid who thought it was fun to ride his bike towards my dog Jack when he was outside in his pen. The kid raced his bike up to the fence before veering off and hitting his brakes. This infuriated and frustrated Jack to no end, and he would growl and bark whenever he saw the boy. Jack was a very friendly dog to everyone else. Mean-spirited teasing or harassment is never alright for people or pets. If you suspect someone is teasing your dog, it’s up to you to put a stop to it immediately, before your pet resorts to biting. Read More »
One of the smallest of the terrier breeds, the Australian Terrier was bred to be a working dog as well as a companion pet. This dog may be small in size, but his attitude is as large and feisty as every other terrier breed. This loyal, even tempered and extremely active canine is comfortable working and living in almost any environment.
The Australian Outback is a harsh existence for people and animals who venture onto the land ill prepared for life in an unforgiving environment. In the late 1700s, European settlers from Britain arrived in Australia. As more and more people migrated to the Land Down Under, they brought a variety of terrier breeds with them, including ancestors of the Skye, Norwich, Irish, Cairn, Yorkshire, Manchester and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. These British breeds were bred with the small Tasmanian Rough-Coated Terrier to develop an intelligent, alert, brave, fast, and able rough-coated dog – the Australian Terrier – the first dog breed recognized in its native land of Australia.
Like us, animals sometimes find themselves in perilous situations and need assistance from a human. Thankfully, there are brave people who are quick to extend a helping hand. Read on for seven heartwarming animal rescue stories from 2015.
Edward Emmerich and his Belgian Malinois, Duke, were down on their luck and homeless. For seven months, “home” for the construction worker and his dog was an encampment under a bridge in McKinney, Texas. The day after Thanksgiving, the rain swollen river quickly rose, and Emmerich was trapped by the rising water. He dialed 911; rescuers pinpointed his location using pings from his cell phone. A rescue team found Emmerich standing chest deep in floodwaters with Duke perched on his shoulders. One of the rescuers, Del Ray Pope, was lowered down to the pair and assisted them as they were pulled to safety. On dry ground, Duke and Emmerich were checked out while Pope removed his gear. What happened next shows that even dogs understand it’s important to thank their rescuer. When Pope walked back to the truck, Duke immediately recognized the firefighter and rushed to him – planting his front paws in the middle of Pope’s chest and gratefully licking his face.
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